BY TOM HESTER SR.
Dr. Poonam Alaigh, director of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Wednesday was named commissioner of the state Health and Senior Services Department by Gov. Chris Christie.
The governor also named Marc Larkins of Irvington, an assistant U.S. attorney for New Jersey, as director of the state School Development Authority Board.
Alaigh, 45 of Warren, was the national medical director for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. She practices medicine at the New Jersey Veterans Administration Hospital in Lyons and is a member of the College of New Jersey Board of Trustees and has served as president of the American Heart Association of North Jersey."It is important we have a qualified team with the attitude and willingness to get to work, make tough decisions and strive for results,'' Christie said in Trenton. "These appointments will assure that the status quo isn't acceptable and the health and education of New Jersey's citizens will be in the best of hands."
Alaigh's appointment will need to be confirmed by the state Senate and Larkins will need to be confirmed by the School Development Authority Board.
“With every selection that Governor Christie makes, it becomes more apparent that his administration makes decisions with objective minds only focused on what is the best for New Jersey,'' said Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris).
"Dr. Alaigh and Mr. Larkins are more than qualified to protect people’s health and ensure that taxpayer dollars used for school construction are spent wisely, effectively and efficiently.”
Alaigh has a multifaceted background in health care administration and delivery, including clinical practice hospital practice, hospital administration, managed care, pharmaceutical medicine, and health care policy.
Prior to joining Horizon BCBSNJ, Alaigh served as national medical director for GlaxoSmithKline and was working with health plans on a number of national issues, including better use of health care technology, the reduction of disparities in health care and healthcare access to the under and uninsured population. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Family Practice at UMDNJ/Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School.
Alaigh has had publications in the field of vascular disease and population health. She is a board certified internist with a specialty in vascular diseases and is certified as a Diplomate in Internal Medicine and licensed to practice in New York and New Jersey.
She received her MD and her masters in health care policy and management at State University of New York at Stony Brook. Alaigh is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, one of the founding members of SATHI (the South Asian Total Healthcare Initiative) a program of the UMDNJ-RWJMS in New Jersey, is the past president and current member of the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, Northern New Jersey chapter and the Founders' affiliate. She was appointed to serve on Governor-Elect Corzine's Transition Team on health care policy, strategies and issues in 2005.As a U.S. attorney, Larkins was involved the oversight and management of all operations of the US Attorney's Newark office, including implementing all significant policies established by the U.S. Attorney and the Department of Justice, acting as Ethics Office.
Larkins also has served as chief of the Government Fraud Unit. As chief, he was responsible for the supervision of assistant US attorney's investigation fraud committed against federal agencies and programs.
Prior to joining the office, Larkins was a trail attorney in the US Department of Justice, Criminal Division from 1999 to March of 2003. He was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of international and domestic narcotics trafficking organizations.
Concurrently, from February of 2000 to March of 2002, Larkins was special assistant U.S, attorney for the District of Columbia.
A graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, Larkins earned his bachelor of science degree from the university.Here is an update on how the Christie administration is taking shape:
- Lieutenant Governor — Kim Guadagno (Elected)
- Secretary of Agriculture — Douglas Fisher
- Attorney General — Paula Dow
- Banking and Insurance Commissioner — Tom Considine
- Children and Families Commissioner — Vacant
- Civil Service Commissioner — Vacant
- Community Affairs Commissioner — Lori Grifa
- Comptroller — Vacant
- Corrections Commissioner — Gary Lanigan
- Council of Economic Advisors Chairman — Bob Grady
- Criminal Justice Director — Stephen Taylor
- Economic Development Authority Director — Al Koeppe
- Education Commissioner — Bret Schundler
- Environmental Protection Commissioner — Bob Martin
- Governor's Appointments Council — Michele Brown
- Governor's Authorities Unit Director — Deborah Gramiccioni
- Governor's Cabinet Secretary — Lou Goetting
- Governor's Chief Counsel — Jeff Chiesa
- Governor's Chief of Staff — Richard Bagger
- Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff — Bill Stepien
- Governor's Deputy Counsel — Kevin O'Dowd
- Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications — Maria Comella
- Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff/Policy & Planning — Wayne Hasenbalg
- Governor's Director of Operations — Rosemary Ianncone
- Governor's Press Secretary — Michael Drewniak
- Health and Senior Services Commissioner — Dr. Poonam Alaigh
- Human Services Commissioner — Jennifer Velez
- Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner — Hal Wirths
- Law Director — Robert Hanna
- Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner — Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth
- Motor Vehicle Commission Director — Vacant
- Office of Economic Growth — Vacant
- Office of Homeland Security and Prepardness — Charles B. McKenna
- Public Advocate — Vacant
- Public Utilities President — Lee Solomon
- Secretary of State — Kim Guadagno
- School Development Auth. Board Director — Marc Larkins
- State Police Superintendent — Vacant
- Treasurer — Andrew Eristoff